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Coming at emo from the straight-edge post-hardcore direction, Oakland, CA's Desa has its roots in a long-running East Bay ska-punk band called Link 80. Forming in 1994, Link 80 released three albums with several different lineups based around the core of drummer Joey Bustos and trumpeter Aaron Nagel, the only members to remain with the group throughout its history. Following the release of Link 80's final album, 2000's The Struggle Continues, saxophonist Steve Borth left that band, and its remaining members changed their name and musical direction. Nagel (switching from trumpet to lead guitar) and Bustos, along with singer Ryan Noble, rhythm guitarist Adam Davis, and bassist Barry Krippene, formed Desa in 2002. Signing to the indie Substandard Records, Desa debuted with the 2003 EP Desa Demonstrates Birth, followed quickly by the post-punk-influenced full-length Year in a Red Room. (Year in a Red Room includes all of the EP's songs, in newly recorded and largely superior versions.) Following the album, Bustos left Desa to join San Francisco indie rockers Street to Nowhere in time for their major-label debut, Charmingly Awkward. Replacing Bustos with new drummer Steven Heet, Desa signed with the indie MDB Records (headed by RX Bandits' Matt Embree) and released their second album, Arriving Alive, in November 2006. ~ Stewart Mason

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2002 in Oakland, CA

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